Betty Manygoats is known for distinctive Dine (Navajo) pottery with its “folk art” feel to the designs. Around 1978 she began using the horned lizard as a design on her pottery. The scales on the lizards are created using a bobby pin! This wedding vase is the more classic shape with the spouts extending upward from the shoulder of the vase. There are 15 horned lizards, each one seeming to scale the sides of the vessel! The piece has been traditionally fired and there are some beautiful color variations from the heat of the fire! After the vase is fired, it is covered in pine pitch in the manner of traditional Navajo pottery. The piece is signed on the bottom in the clay, “BM.” Betty has won numerous awards for her pottery over the years. It can also be found in museums throughout the southwest.
Why the horned lizard? “In the Diné culture Horned Toad is addressed as “grandpa” (shicheii). It possesses spiritual power. When you see one, pick it up and rub it on your chest and say, “I will be in good health and harmony.” If you have corn pollen sprinkle it as an offering and then let the horned lizard loose where you found it. You will then have good health and harmony. It is believed that the horned toad is dressed with an armored shield, which is called arrowhead. The spiky horns on the body represent the arrowheads. This protects the horned toad from predators. It was placed on earth with songs and prayers so that in the future the Diné would utilize it. The Diné still know and use its sacred prayers and songs for protection.” Traditional Dine Teachings on Wildlife (1998)
Betty Barlow Manygoats (b.1945) is Dine’, from the Water Clan. She learned to make pottery from her mother, Zonie Barlow. As early as 1978 Betty introduced a horny toad motif to her pots, winning awards for her work at the annual Navajo exhibitions held at the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff and the Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial in Gallup, New Mexico. Betty uses Navajo clay from Black Mesa, forming it into coils that wind upward. She then smooths the coiled clay and adds the decorations. Horned toad scales are fashioned with a bobby pin. Fireclouds occur where the wood ash comes in contact with the clay. After firing, warm piñon pitch is applied inside and out.